"How I Love You"
themselves around the will to live with others, not alone. But not
any more. During the past half-century, our species has
embarked on a remarkable social experiment. For the first time in
human history, great numbers of people – at all ages, in all places,
of every political persuasion – have begun settling down as
singletons. Until the second half of the last century, most of us
married young and parted only at death. If death came early, we
remarried quickly; if late, we moved in with family, or they with
us. Now we marry later. We divorce, and stay single for years or
decades. We survive our spouses, and do everything we can to
avoid moving in with others – including our children. We cycle in
and out of different living arrangements: alone, together, together,
Numbers never tell the whole story, but in this case the statistics
are startling. According to the market research firm Euromonitor
International, the number of people living alone globally is
skyrocketing, rising from about 153 million in 1996 to 277 million
in 2011 – an increase of around 80% in 15 years. In the UK, 34% of
households have one person living in them and in the US it's 27%.
Contemporary solo dwellers in the US are primarily women:
about 18 million, compared with 14 million men. The majority,
more than 16 million, are middle-aged adults between the ages of
35 and 64. The elderly account for about 11 million of the total.
Young adults between 18 and 34 number more than 5 million,
compared with 500,000 in 1950, making them the fastest-
growing segment of the solo-dwelling population. Unlike their
predecessors, people who live alone today cluster together in
Sweden has more solo dwellers than anywhere else in the world,
with 47% of households having one resident; followed by Norway
at 40%. In Scandinavian countries their welfare states protect
most citizens from the more difficult aspects of living alone. In
Japan, where social life has historically been organised around the
family, about 30% of all households have a single dweller, and the
rate is far higher in urban areas. The Netherlands and Germany
share a greater proportion of one-person households than the UK.
And the nations with the fastest growth in one-person
households? China, India and Brazil.
But despite the worldwide prevalence, living alone isn't really
discussed, or understood. We aspire to get our own places as
young adults, but fret about whether it's all right to stay that way,
even if we enjoy it. We worry about friends and family members
who haven't found the right match, even if they insist that they're
OK on their own. We struggle to support elderly parents and
grandparents who find themselves living alone after losing a
spouse, but we are puzzled if they tell us they prefer to remain
In all of these situations, living alone is something that each
person, or family, experiences as the most private of matters,
when in fact it is an increasingly common condition.
When there is a public debate about the rise of living alone,
commentators present it as a sign of fragmentation. In fact, the
reality of this great social experiment is far more interesting – and
far less isolating – than these conversations would have us
believe. The rise of living alone has been a transformative social
experience. It changes the way we understand ourselves and our
most intimate relationships. It shapes the way we build our cities
and develop our economies.
So what is driving it? The wealth generated by economic
development and the social security provided by modern welfare
states have enabled the spike. One reason that more people live
alone than ever before is that they can afford to. Yet there are a
great many things that we can afford to do but choose not to,
which means the economic explanation is just one piece of the
In addition to economic prosperity, the rise stems from the
cultural change that Émile Durkheim, a founding figure in
sociology in the late 19th century, called the cult of the individual.
According to Durkheim, this cult grew out of the transition from
traditional rural communities to modern industrial cities. Now the
cult of the individual has intensified far beyond what Durkheim
envisioned. Not long ago, someone who was dissatisfied with
their spouse and wanted a divorce had to justify that decision.
Today if someone is not fulfilled by their marriage, they have to
justify staying in it, because there is cultural pressure to be good
to one's self.
Another driving force is the communications revolution, which
has allowed people to experience the pleasures of social life even
when they're living alone. And people are living longer than ever
before – or, more specifically, because women often outlive their
spouses by decades, rather than years – and so ageing alone has
become an increasingly common experience.
Although each person who develops the capacity to live alone
finds it an intensely personal experience, my research suggests
that some elements are widely shared. Today, young solitaires
actively reframe living alone as a mark of distinction and success.
They use it as a way to invest time in their personal and
professional growth. Such investments in the self are necessary,
they say, because contemporary families are fragile, as are most
jobs, and in the end each of us must be able to depend on
ourselves. On the one hand, strengthening the self means
undertaking solitary projects and learning to enjoy one's own
company. But on the other it means making great efforts to be
social: building up a strong network of friends and work contacts.
Living alone and being alone are hardly the same, yet the two are
routinely conflated. In fact, there's little evidence that the rise of
living alone is responsible for making us lonely. Research shows
that it's the quality, not the quantity of social interactions that best
predicts loneliness. What matters is not whether we live alone, but
whether we feel alone. There's ample support for this conclusion
outside the laboratory. As divorced or separated people often say,
there's nothing lonelier than living with the wrong person.
There is also good evidence that people who never marry are no
less content than those who do. According to research, they are
significantly happier and less lonely than people who are widowed
In theory, the rise of living alone could lead to any number of
outcomes, from the decline of community to a more socially
active citizenry, from rampant isolation to a more robust public
life. I began my exploration of singleton societies with an eye for
their most dangerous and disturbing features, including
selfishness, loneliness and the horrors of getting sick or dying
alone. I found some measure of all of these things. On balance,
however, I came away convinced that the problems related to
living alone should not define the condition, because the great
majority of those who go solo have a more rich and varied
Sometimes they feel lonely, anxious and uncertain about whether
they would be happier in another arrangement. But so do those
who are married or live with others. The rise of living alone has
produced significant social benefits, too. Young and middle-aged
solos have helped to revitalise cities, because they are more
likely to spend money, socialise and participate in public life.
Despite fears that living alone may be environmentally
unsustainable, solos tend to live in apartments rather than in big
houses, and in relatively green cities rather than in car-dependent
suburbs. There's good reason to believe that people who live
alone in cities consume less energy than if they coupled up and
decamped to pursue a single-family home.
Ultimately, it's too early to say how any particular society will
respond to either the problems or the opportunities generated by
this extraordinary social transformation. After all, our experiment
with living alone is still in its earliest stages, and we are just
beginning to understand how it affects our own lives, as well as
those of our families, communities and cities.
• Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise And Surprising Appeal Of
Living Alone, by Eric Kinenberg, is published by Penguin Press at
Colm Toibin, 56
saying for the broken hearted.
Heartbreak is a very strange
distress. It is exquisitely painful,
and yet we cannot find an injury
on our body. New research finds
that when you reminisce about
the one that got away, the brain
actually triggers sensations that
you also feel in times of "real"
physical pain, making heartbreak
truly, physically painful to add to
the emotional distress it
Heartbreak is like one big
emotional pain but it also seems
to spark off hundreds of other
emotions. We hate the feeling of
heartbreak, and yet we find
ourselves compelled to go over
and over memories, ideas or
fantasies which make the feeling
Edward E. Smith, director of
cognitive neuroscience at
Columbia University explains:
"This tells us how serious
rejection can be sometimes. When
people are saying 'I really feel in
pain about this breakup,' you
don't want to trivialize it and
dismiss it by saying 'It's all in your
mind.' Our ultimate goal is to see
what kind of therapeutic
approach might be useful in
relieving the pain of rejection.
From everyday experience,
rejection seems to be one of the
most painful things we
experience. It seems the feelings
of rejection can be sustained even
longer than being angry."
Forty people analyzed from New
York City and all of whom felt
"intensely rejected," took part in
the study. While participants were
told to look at photos, including
photos of their friends (they were
directed to think positive thoughts
about them), and photos of their
exes (they were directed to think
about their breakup), their brains
were scanned for changes in
activity. The participants also
underwent brain scans as they
felt pain on their forearms similar
to the feeling of holding a hot cup
of coffee in comparison. Several
of the same areas of the brain
became active when the
participants felt either physical
pain or emotional pain.
The research shows that rejection
appears to be in a class by itself
in terms of its similarity to
physical pain. Future research
could examine how emotional
pain due to rejection affects how
people feel physical pain.
Here are some tips that may help
you get over the pain:
Breathe. All you can do is survive
this first and difficult day. Take
one day at a time. Give yourself
permission to mourn. Call in sick
at work, sleep all day, eat too
much ice cream, sob.
Congratulate yourself for being
human: It is only when you open
yourself to love that your heart
can break. Develop and repeat a
helpful mantra to get you through
the initial shock and pain, such as
"This too shall pass" or "I will
Reach out to a close friend or
family member. It helps to share
your thoughts with others. Watch
a movie to distract yourself.
Choose a comedy that has
cheered you up in the past. Or
watch a movie that's guaranteed
to make you sob--it may surprise
you how good that feels.
Surround yourself with friends.
This may mean reaching out to
people you fell out of touch with
during the relationship. Make lists
to help you regain your
confidence and identity: a list of
your friends, of things you like, of
what you want to accomplish in
the next decade. Spoil yourself:
Get a new hairstyle, have a spa
day or go shopping. Resist the
urge to call your ex.
Assess the experience. Have you
learned anything about yourself?
Does the experience make you
more empathetic to others
who've suffered a hardship?
Begin an activity that will fill your
time, distract your mind and
rebuild your confidence. Train for
a marathon, take up yoga or learn
a new language. Resist the urge
to call your ex. Volunteer your
time at a local homeless shelter,
soup kitchen or tutoring center. It
will take your mind off your own
woes and keep your suffering in
Force yourself to go on dates.
You'll be surprised to discover
that your heart can still flutter
over someone. It's part of the
Consult a psychiatrist if you are
experiencing symptoms of
depression, such as lack of
appetite, insomnia or too much
sleeping, low self-esteem, and an
inability to concentrate or carry
out routine tasks. Ask a friend or
physician to recommend one who
is experienced in treating
Remember that healing is a
process that takes time. Expect
waves of sadness, anger, guilt or
fear even after you think you are
over it. Give your heart time to
Compartmentalize the experience
in your memory: "My heart was
broken once. It really hurt and I'm
glad it's over."
As one popular quote goes, "Love
is like falling down... in the end
you're left hurt, scarred, and with
a memory of it forever."
Source: Proceedings of the
Mae Carla Jane Cordova
hi my friend
Hi Dinu I love your post about Pain. Inspirational work ...
Hey Dinusha my sweetheart.. I miss you da.. I'm fine dear.. Nd you.?
|November 2013January 2014|